WAP-3B (7/16/04 version)
Effective Watershed Action Planning (WAP) And Implementation: Core Components

To support local watershed group movement along the continuum in Figure 1, the State of Ohio will establish a Watershed Program Targets Group to promote a balance of three core components to effective watershed action planning and implementation, as illustrated in the conceptual model in Figure 2. The current planning and implementation evaluation process and the NPS Plan watershed planning and implementation targets 2005-2010 are designed accordingly.

Figure 2 illustrates that effective watershed planning to protect and restore water quality requires that the action plan is: 1) based on the best science available relative to the "as-is and "desired" condition of the water resource; 2) developed with the participation and buy-in of a diverse set of stakeholders, representing both the science and the values and needs of the watershed community; and 3) outlining the who, what, where, how, why, and costs of plan implementation, including the monetary and non-monetary resources, and institutional arrangements that are needed.

Likewise, Figure 2 illustrates that effective watershed action plan implementation requires deliberate attention to the same three core components. Specifically: 1) proper design and siting of a NPS management measure or management system and evaluation of water quality impacts post-implementation, rely on scientific expertise from various disciplines, including but not limited to, engineering, soil science, biology, ecology, fluvial geomorphology, and agronomics; 2) implementation leadership by agencies at the county and local level is critical to trust, credibility, and voluntary adoption of management measures; and 3) the "desired" condition of the water resource is rarely achieved after one round of NPS implementation, necessitating sustained watershed action plan implementation in phases over time. And, once implemented, constructed practices, conservation easements/land preservation, and local ordinances must be maintained, enforced, evaluated, and highlighted through education and outreach.

Figure 2. Effective Watershed Action Planning and Implementation

The three rings representing the three core components are overlapping and in balance. Said another way, one part science-based, plus one part community-led, plus one part sustainability = recipe for successful watershed action planning and implementation. Where any two or three rings overlap, there are outcomes that cannot be easily achieved or obtained without deliberate attention to the appropriate balance between the overlapping core components.

For example, the science can give us raw facts to begin discussion, but then stakeholder involvement and buy-in is needed to determine how best to proceed with sustainable solutions that will meet environmental targets and also work for each unique watershed community. On the other hand, if a watershed group proceeds strictly on the basis of local desires, meaningful work may occur, but the probability of efficient and effective water quality improvement is far less certain.

Central to the success of achieving balance between all three components is stakeholder diversity and effective participation. This is the glue that holds these components together. Not only is it necessary to have diverse stakeholder representation, it is critical that stakeholders participate meaningfully in the decision-making process. It is recognized that decision-making among diverse interests is challenging in the short-term. However broad consensus and buy-in establish credibility and are common threads among most successful and sustainable watershed initiatives.

And finally, it is recognized that watershed planning and implementation do not occur in a vacuum as shown by the outer circle with arrows directed at the core components, illustrating the universe or context within which watershed planning and implementation occur. The real world includes a mix of biological and ecological characteristics, political and institutional considerations, and socio-economic conditions unique to each local watershed.